Four For You, Hot Cocoa
A little bit of a cold snap this week has a lot of us running for cover(s)! There’s plenty of tasty ways to keep warm, from a hot, brothy soup to a calming cup of tea, but what sounds sweetest to us is hot chocolate! (Or hot cocoa—whatever you prefer to call it, it’s good stuff.)
From its origins as a spiced, frothy drink drunk by the Mayans to the rich, marshmallow-studded cup we enjoy today, hot chocolate has a long history of being a special treat. Many of us have fond childhood memories of tearing open a packet of instant cocoa, complete with tiny dehydrated marshmallows, but nostalgia can only go so far. We deserve the best hot chocolate experience there is, and lucky us, that’s exactly what we have here at Provisions!
Marou has been one of our favorite chocolate makers for years, from their well-crafted chocolate bars to their beautiful hand-printed wrappers, all produced in Vietnam in small batches. Marou roasts their beans low and slow, and those beans are sourced from a small, trusted network of Vietnamese cacao farmers. Now, they’ve brought the luscious flavors of their chocolate to cacao powder—not hot cocoa, not cocoa powder, but cacao powder, because this tin is a real multitasking pow(d)erhouse. You can use Marou’s cacao powder for baking your perfect chocolate cake or fudgy brownies, thanks to not being overly sweet like mainstream hot chocolate mixes, but it functions beautifully as hot cocoa without the bitterness you’d expect from cocoa powder. Mix a healthy spoonful of this cacao powder into simmering milk (whether dairy or plant-based is up to you; we like cashew milk for this one) for a soothing cup with earthy, warming flavors that will push the cold right out.
Taza Chocolate founder Alex Whitmore fell in love with traditional Oaxacan chocolate-making at first bite—enough to apprentice under a Oaxacan molinero to learn the art of stone-ground Mexican chocolate. With Mexico being the birthplace of hot chocolate, it stands to reason that stone-ground chocolate could be considered the most authentic way to enjoy a hot cup (una taza caliente, you might say)! Hot chocolate in Mexico is usually made from portioned-out discs of that stone-ground chocolate, melted into frothy hot milk or water. That’s why Taza chocolate, while sometimes found in bar form, is best known for discs of stone-ground chocolate that range from the purest cacao flavor to spicy pepper-infused deliciousness. With the Taza Love You More Sampler—just in time for Valentine’s Day—you’ll be able to try them all! Pure dark chocolate, as well as dark chocolate infused with vanilla, cinnamon, or Guajillo chili.
We’ve already written all about the benefits of this medicinal cacao from a small herb farm in Vermont, but if we’re going to round up hot cocoa, this jar deserves a second mention. With just enough coconut sugar, this adaptogenic cacao makes a smooth and delicious cup that will feed your body *and* soothe your soul.
Hot chocolate can be enjoyed all on its own, but anything is better with friends. In this case, we think a dollop of whipped cream is the perfect topping, especially for anyone with a sweet tooth. (If you’re fussy about the exact texture of your whipped cream, we get it—and we have the best heavy cream around for the job!) Hot chocolate-friendly cookies are subjective, but if we had to make a suggestion, right now we’re big fans of Brooklyn Brittle’s Cinnamon Walnut Cookie Brittle. Perfectly crumbly shortbread with the kind of nutty, wintry flavors we crave in this kind of weather, especially with hot chocolate. For a simpler cookie, our runner up is the very classic Effie’s Oatcakes, which we’ve always found impossible to put down. Pour your hot chocolate into your favorite mug, and you're set for a toasty afternoon inside!